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Legacy: Just a By-Product of a Broken System

TCF fellow, Richard D. Kahlenberg has been quoted in a Harvard Political Review article about Harvard's legacy admissions.

Even after years of campaigns for diversity, increased financial aid, and accessibility to all students, Harvard’s campus still does not accurately reflect society today.  A recent article in The Crimson, “What Should Harvard’s Legacy Be” urged the College to “eliminate legacy preference in admissions, to make the admissions process more transparent…and to actively strive toward a legacy of equal access for its many qualified applicants” in order to better combat its homogeneity.  Unfortunately, in a society dominated by institutional benefits for the wealthy, preference for legacy applicants is a tiny detail in the larger picture of Harvard’s massively flawed “meritocracy.”

Read the full article.

Tags: legacy admissions, harvard, financial aid, educational inequality, college admissions

Speaking Truth to Educational Policy: A Review of Mettler’s Degrees of Inequality

TCF fellow Suzanne Mettler's book, Degrees of Inequality, has been profiled on The Huffington Post.

In August 1988, I boarded Singapore Airlines flight from India to Los Angles to start my graduate work at the University of Southern California. I arrived at USC, an eager teaching assistant, and I was immediately blown away by the California Higher Ed Master Plan, by the big idea, the big ideal, that education is a fundamental "right." I remember being struck by the three-tiered Higher Ed system in California with the community college role of providing opportunities for all -- and I repeat for all.

This commitment, I believe, is the heart of Suzanne Mettler's book Degrees of Inequality. She provides a glimpse of this when she is not having you work through the details of her analysis and eight years of studies. Her father, John Mettler said: "I told each of my daughters that I wanted her to get a college degree so that she could support herself, and then she could marry any damn bum she wanted." And on page 203 she talks about her sister Jeanne: "..a criminal defense attorney and as a teacher has devoted several decades of her life to helping young people who grew up in far more difficult circumstances to have greater opportunities." -- this is the American Dream!

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Tags: university admissions, universities, inequality, higher education, diversity in education, degrees of inequality, community college, college diversity

How George W. Bush Benefited From Affirmative Action

TCF fellow, Richard D. Kahlenberg has been mentioned in a Huffington Post article about affirmative action within higher education.

The current public debate and wave of articles about how colleges can do a better job of providing access to students from low-income families -- including my own article, "Making Top Colleges Less Aristocratic and More Meritocratic" (with Richard Kahlenberg) in Friday's New York Times -- reminds me that for over a century, most colleges have had an affirmative action policy for rich, well-connected white kids. It is called "legacy" admissions.

Former President George W. Bush was an affirmative-action beneficiary, at Yale University and then at Harvard Business School. But that didn't stop him from opposing affirmative action based, in part, on race. Bush once said that considering applicants' race in college admissions "amounts to a quota system that unfairly rewards or penalizes prospective students based on their race."

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Tags: university admissions, legacy admissions, inequality, higher education, diversity in education, college system, affirmative action for the rich, affirmative action

Making Top Colleges Less Aristocratic and More Meritocratic

TCF senior fellow Richard D. Kahlenberg has co-written an article for the New York Times about diversity within higher education.

Education is supposed to be America’s primary engine for social mobility, but growing economic inequality is vividly reflected in our nation’s top colleges. At the nation’s most selective 193 colleges and universities, affluent students (those from the richest socioeconomic quarter of the population) outnumber economically disadvantaged students (those from the bottom quarter) by 14 to 1.

To shine light on this issue, The New York Times recently published a new index of selective colleges, measuring their commitment to socioeconomic diversity. Some colleges, such as Amherst and Harvard, have made considerable progress in opening their doors to low-income students, while others have done less well.

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Tags: university admissions, higher education, higher ed, equality, diversity in education, diversity, college students

The state of community and technical college in Minnesota

TCF fellow Richard D. Kahlenberg has been quoted in an article about community and technical colleges in Minnesota on MPR News.

Over the past month, we've talked about many facets of higher education--from MOOCs to liberal arts institutions. Today we're talking about other important post-secondary options: community and technical colleges.

Community colleges are pillars of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. They train technicians for jobs in leading-edge industries and grant associate's degrees that let students finish the last half of their higher education at a four-year institution. While the gap in economic well-being between college graduates and those with only a high school diploma grows ever wider, community colleges serve as gateways for the underrepresented and the working class.

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Tags: higher education, graduation rates, community colleges, community college, college system, college students, college education




Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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